The Denver Nuggets (57-30) took down the Phoenix Suns (49-38) in Game 1, and they’re preparing for Game 2 tonight at home before they head on the road. The Nuggets are currently undefeated at home, which makes sense after finishing second in the NBA in win percentage at home. For the Suns, they’re looking to bounce back after a quiet second quarter did them in in Game 1. 

For Denver, it was the Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon show in Game 1. Murray was 13-of-24, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range, en route to scoring 20 of his 34 points in the second half. Gordon was 9-of-13 for 23 points, and he went 3-of-4 from 3-point range, which was just the sixth time this season he had made three or more triples in a game. Despite a lower-end performance from Nikola Jokic, Denver won by 18.

For Phoenix, they got 56 points combined out of Kevin Durant and Devin Booker on 22-of-38 shooting, but no one else on the roster scored more than 14 points. Whether by the design of Denver or Phoenix, those two were the only ones that were really taking a high volume of shots. They need a third party to show up for Game 2 to tie this series before they head back home.

The Essentials

Who: Denver Nuggets (57-30, 38-7 home) vs Phoenix Suns (49-38, 19-25 away)

When: 8:00 p.m. MST

Where: Ball Arena

How to watch/listen: Denver Stiffs does not condone piracy..unless it’s the romanticized 18th-century type. AltitudeTV where available. TNT. Show up in Denver. 92.5 FM KKSE Altitude Sports Radio

Expected Starting Lineups:

PHX: PG Chris Paul, SG Devin Booker, SF Josh Okogie, PF Kevin Durant, C Deandre Ayton

DEN: PG Jamal Murray, SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF Michael Porter Jr., PF Aaron Gordon, C Nikola Jokic

Injuries: None

Three Things to Watch

Win the Battle Beyond the Arc

In Game 1, the Nuggets shot 16-of-37 from 3-point range compared to 7-of-23 for the Suns. The Suns’ starting lineup has potent offensive players, but none of them are particularly drawn to shooting from outside. Of Phoenix’s starting five, they were 2-of-10 with none of those players making more than one shot from outside. If Denver can get hot from outside early, it could force the Suns to play a different offensive style than they’re comfortable with. 

Keep Jamal Rolling

Since the playoffs started, Murray has looked spectacular. He’s shooting 46.1 percent from 3-point range on 52 attempts, and he’s also averaging 6.8 assists per game in the playoffs. Jokic always draws a fair bit of attention, but, when Murray is cooking, defenses begin to stretch very thin which opens up space for everyone else. The most recent beneficiary being Gordon. If they can get Murray a couple of baskets early on, he could be in for another big night. 

Take Care of the Ball

In Game 1, the Nuggets had an incredible 14 steals compared to four for the Suns, and they won the turnover battle by a margin of nine to 16. Their 14 steals was tied for the second-most they had in a game all year. I wouldn’t expect that many steals again, but, if they can take care of the ball at an effective rate, that will limit scoring chances for Phoenix’s scorers to get hot on the other end.